TOKYO (Kyodo) — A bill to ensure the safety of petfood bans the manufacture, sale and import of products containing substances deemed harmful and requires makers and importers to report their business to the government, an outline of the bill said Wednesday.
Companies violating an envisaged petfood safety law — the first of its kind in Japan — would be fined up to 100 million yen, the outline said. This reflects growing concern about the issue following the death of many dogs and cats in the United States last year after they ate Chinese-made petfood.
Individual offenders would be sentenced to up to a year in prison or fined up to 1 million yen, or both, the outline said.
The Environment Ministry and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries plan to submit the bill during the current Diet session.
For now, the bill is designed to regulate food for dogs and cats, which accounts for about 90 percent of total petfood in Japan. Industry figures show petfood shipments in Japan totaled more than 240 billion yen in fiscal 2006.
The ministries are crafting the bill as an increasing number of Japanese households maintain dogs or cats.
The number of dogs and cats kept as pets in Japan totaled 24.55 million in fiscal 2006, up from 16.64 million in fiscal 2002, according to the PetFood Manufacturers Association, Japan.
The outline said the bill lists materials that must not be detected in petfood beyond certain levels.
The ministries will also decide on the types of materials that cannot be used for petfood, details of which will be featured in a ministry ordinance.
The bill allows the government to conduct on-the-spot inspections of manufacturing sites, warehouses and vehicles to check the safety of petfood if deemed necessary, according to the outline.
It also allows the government to order distributors of illegal products to recover or scrap them, it said.
''If you see the issue also from the view of animal protection, it is of great significance to ensure the safety of petfood,'' an Environment Ministry official said.